View full screen - View 1 of Lot 9. A FABERGÉ JEWELLED TWO-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED NEPHRITE AND ROCK CRYSTAL STUDY OF A DANDELION, ST PETERSBURG, CIRCA 1900.
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A FABERGÉ JEWELLED TWO-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED NEPHRITE AND ROCK CRYSTAL STUDY OF A DANDELION, ST PETERSBURG, CIRCA 1900

Property from the Brooklyn Museum, sold to Support Museum Collections

A FABERGÉ JEWELLED TWO-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED NEPHRITE AND ROCK CRYSTAL STUDY OF A DANDELION, ST PETERSBURG, CIRCA 1900

A FABERGÉ JEWELLED TWO-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED NEPHRITE AND ROCK CRYSTAL STUDY OF A DANDELION, ST PETERSBURG, CIRCA 1900

Property from the Brooklyn Museum, sold to Support Museum Collections

A FABERGÉ JEWELLED TWO-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED NEPHRITE AND ROCK CRYSTAL STUDY OF A DANDELION, ST PETERSBURG, CIRCA 1900


Formed as a single yellow gold dandelion seed-head with pink gold seeds terminating in rose-cut diamond and natural thread pappi, on a finely textured gold stem with two nephrite leaves in a tapering faceted cylindrical rock crystal vase, apparently unmarked; in a fitted leather and silk A La Vieille Russie case

height 19cm, 7 1/2in.

To request a condition report for this lot, please contact helen.culversmith@sothebys.com

A La Vieille Russie, New York
Helen Babbott Sanders, acquired from the above
The Brooklyn Museum, New York, bequest from the above in 1983
Exhibition catalogue Peter Carl Fabergé; goldsmith and jeweller to the Russian imperial court and to the principal crowned heads of Europe, New York, A La Vieille Russie, Inc., 1949, n. 139, p. 16
Exhibition catalogue Fabergé: Exhibition for the Benefit of the Scholarship Fund of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design, New York, A La Vieille Russie, Inc., 1983, n. 458, p. 125 listed, p. 126 illustrated
G. von Habsburg, Fabergé Fantasies & Treasures, New York, 1995, pl. 33, p. 60 illustrated
Exhibition catalogue Fabergé in America, San Francisco, 1996, p. 201 illustrated
S. Harrison, E. Ducamp, J. Falino, et. al., Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique, Cleveland Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2008, n. 46, p. 183 illustrated
New York, A La Vielle Russie, Inc., Peter Carl Fabergé; goldsmith and jeweller to the Russian imperial court and to the principal crowned heads of Europe, November - December 1949
New York, Fabergé: Exhibition for the Benefit of the Scholarship Fund of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design, New York, A La Vieille Russie, Inc., 1983
San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, Fabergé in America: the Legacy of the Tsars, May 25 - July 28, 1996; also travelled to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 12 - April 30, 1996; Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, August 24 - November 9, 1996; New Orleans, Fine Arts Museum, December 7, 1996 - February 8, 1997; and Cleveland Museum of Art, March 12 - May 11, 1997
New York, Brooklyn Museum of Art, BMA Fabergé Installation, supplementary to Jewels of the Romanovs: Treasures of the Russian Imperial Court, March 20 - July 12, 1998
Cleveland, Museum of Art, Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique, October 19, 2008 - January 18, 2009; also travelled to Fine Arts Museum San Francisco, February 7 - May 31, 2009
New York, Brooklyn Museum, Key to the City, June 2 - September 6, 2010

The popularity of Fabergé's dandelion studies is highlighted in the memoirs of one of the firm's head workmasters Franz Birbaum, written in 1919:


'The dandelions were particularly successful: their fluff was natural and fixed on a golden thread with a small, uncut diamond. The shining points of the diamond among the white fluff were marvelously successful and prevented this artificial flower from being too close a reproduction of nature.' Other famous Fabergé dandelion studies include that made for Mme Yznaga, sister of the Duchess of Manchester ('Birbaum Memoirs' in G. von Habsburg, M. Lopato, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweller, Milan, 1993, p. 458).


Employing a range of artists across Fabergé’s workshop, from stonecutters to gem-setters, flowers such as the present dandelion are a lasting testimony to the diversity and ingenuity of the firm and its thoughtful use of precious materials. As this model of dandelion reflects, simpler, more modern flowers found in the meadows and fields of Russia were often favoured by Fabergé’s clientele to elaborate blooms. 


The process of making these flowers, from the cutting of the vase in rock crystal to the setting of the tiny diamonds and natural threads of the puff, was a lengthy and thoughtful one. The two-colour gold of then seed-head and the gentle lean of the flower in its pot are perfectly balanced by the movement in the carving of its nephrite leaves. The polish and the finely engraved details of these leaves was characteristic of Fabergé’s workshops. Nephrite, with its natural variations in colour was sourced and chosen from massive boulders near Lake Baikal in Siberia and the Sayan Highlands in the Altai Mountains.


Once all the intricate elements of flower studies had been carved, they were assembled in the workshop of Fabergé’s head workmaster Henrik Wigström. The leaves and gold filaments were attached to a naturalistic gold stem using the most delicate pins or by setting them in discrete pockets with a special glue. The stem itself was made to resemble its natural inspiration by using an alloy of gold and copper or silver to give it a reddish or greenish hue, respectively. The gold of the stem was then textured using engraving and embossing tools by the most accurate of craftsmen in the workshop (M. Pfeifer Swezey et. al., Fabergé Flowers, New York, 2004, pp. 71-72).